As more organizations, corporations, and agencies rely fully on computer technology for data communication and storage, the need for professional computer forensics experts has never been higher. From the healthcare industry to education, to government agencies and corporations big and small, there is a need for network and systems protection all around.
From creating customized reports of findings and observations to monitoring systems for attacks and intrusions, you’ll work to create safer systems every day. With hackers becoming more prevalent in today’s digital world, it’s more important than ever to have folks on the good side! Protecting vital information and thinking a few steps ahead to prevent further attacks is what computer forensics officials do best.
What kind of Computer Forensics degree should you get?
With the rise of degree offerings in computer forensics, it can be difficult to decide which program is best for you. Should you attend online or on-campus? Should you choose a concentration? Now that you’ve made the decision to earn a Master’s degree in computer forensics, plenty of other decisions will follow. Luckily, we’re here to help!
If you’re considering an online program, we’ve got you covered. In fact, College Choice has ranked the 50 Most Affordable Online Graduate Schools – we know what quality online programs are made up of. For those looking for a bit more flexibility in earning an advanced degree, an online cybersecurity program is a great choice. And, it’s not surprising that a computer forensics major would feel most at home in front of a computer! Check out the most affordable online programs below!
How much money do people make with a Master’s in Computer Forensics?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary for computer forensic examiners is around $95,000 per year. Not a bad salary for fighting cyber crime! And your salary will only increase with the more education and experience you have.
The responsibilities of computer forensics professionals are continually expanding as the number of cyberattacks increases. In fact, the BLS predicts a projected growth of 28 percent in cybersecurity jobs from now till 2026. Security analysts will need to create unique solutions to prevent hackers from stealing critical information going forward.
What can you do with a Master’s in Computer Forensics?
Earning a master’s degree in computer forensics will open up many doors for graduates. Every industry needs an expert to keep their data safe. With a degree in this field, you can become anything from a Computer Forensics Investigator or Computer Systems Analyst to a Cybersecurity Officer or Digital Forensics Investigator. Of course, you’re not limited to these career options – there are plenty of unique opportunities for you to pursue!
A computer forensics degree certainly won’t sentence you to a life as the “IT guy” who fixes printers and helps folks reboot their computers. There are so many more opportunities today as technology becomes increasingly sophisticated. Plus, you can choose to specialize in an even more niche area within computer forensics to score a more specific industry-related gig.
What are the best Master’s in Computer Forensics degrees?
While many schools offer degrees in computer science, it is now becoming increasingly more common to see master’s degrees offered specifically in computer forensics. But, how do you choose the best program? If you’re looking to begin your career fighting cyber crime, these 20 master’s degrees will serve you well so that you can go on to serve others.
From Western Governors University, to the University of Maryland – University College, the opportunities at these schools are endless. You’ll learn everything from ethical hacking and disaster recovery planning, to computer networking and cryptography – start your digital journey today!
Western Governors University
Average Net Price: $9,115
One of the top accredited online colleges in the nation, Western Governors University is based in Salt Lake City, UT. Rather than a tuition rate, WGU charges students per term. This fee includes up to 18 credit-hours and, if students have a need to further reduce the college cost, financial aid is also an option. WGU now offers an affordable online Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance.
Most graduate students complete this degree program in one year. You’ll take 10 courses, including:
- Ethical Hacking
- Secure Software Design
- Information Security and Assurance Capstone Project
- Disaster Recovery Planning, Prevention and Response
In addition to these courses, you’ll earn the following certifications: EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker and EC-Council Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator (CHFI). The cost of tuition per 6-month term is $3,490.
Western Governors University prides itself on its competency-based education methods and was named a Best Value School by University Research & Review. With the idea that no two students are the same, online courses are tailored to each specific individual’s needs. Much like the university itself, these degrees are centered in the IT, teaching, health, and business fields.
Southern Arkansas University
Average Net Price: $11,428
Located in Magnolia, AR, this public university was founded in 1909. Nearly 110 years later, Southern Arkansas University is home to over 3,200 students. SAU offers degrees through five colleges including: Business, Education, Liberal and Performing Arts, Science and Engineering, and Graduate Studies. Now, students can pursue an online Master of Science in Computer and Information Science with a Cyber Security and Privacy Option.
Offered through SAU’s College of Science and Engineering, this program requires 30 hours and can be completed within two years. Required courses may include:
- Computer Networking
- Database Management Systems
- Information & Networking Security
- Vulnerability Analysis and Risk Assessment
- Traceable systems and Computer Forensics
Students may choose from one of three areas of focus, including information technology, data science, or cyber security and privacy. Many graduates of this program pursue careers as security/privacy architects, forensic specialists, security/privacy compliance analysts, or a related job.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked Southern Arkansas University as one of the Best Regional Universities in the South. It’s also one of the most affordable degree programs. The total tuition for in-state graduates is just $9,960, while out-of-state tuition is just over $14,000.
American Public University
Average Net Price: $11,470
The American Public University System is a private (despite its name), for-profit, regionally accredited institution dedicated to online learning. The school has an explicit focus on providing accessible higher education to members of the U.S. military (though they do not have an official relationship with the military) and offers high-quality, affordable, accredited educational programs to nontraditional learners.
The first half of American Public University’s program focuses on the foundations of network security and cybercrime. The second half of the program focuses on the political and social practices around cyber crime. The program aims to educate student in several facets of cyber security:
- Analyze cyber threats
- Examine the legal side of issues
- Compare different policies
- Appraise the methodologies
- Categorize cybersecurity roles
Online classes at APU start monthly (so you don’t have to wait) and run in either accelerated eight or 16-week terms. Class sizes are small (averaging around 18 students per class), and classes are asynchronous so you can work on your own schedule. Affordability is a hallmark of an American Public University education. The school keeps tuition among the lowest in the country while setting the bar high in terms of academic excellence.
Sam Houston State University
Average Net Price: $12,365
Located in Huntsville, TX, Sam Houston State University was founded in 1879 and is the third oldest university in the state. Home to over 20,000 students and mascot Sammy Bearkat, this public institution offers a variety of degree programs. Now, SHSU offers an online Master of Science degree in Digital Forensics. Learn more about the program below!
This online program requires the completion of 30-36 credit-hours. Required courses may include:
- Directed Management & Development Project
- Digital Forensics Investigation
- Network and Cyber Security
- File System Forensics
- Digital Security
This program is intended for those who have completed undergraduate studies in Computer Science or Criminal Justice. The estimated tuition per semester of this online program is $4,012 for Texas residents. The cost is $4,650 per semester for non-residents.
Sam Houston State University has been ranked by U.S. News and World Report as one of the Best National Universities. SHSU was also ranked first for Best Online Graduate Criminal Justice Programs and sixteenth for Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology Programs. It’s no wonder so many students are choosing SHSU for their graduate studies.
University of Maryland University College
Average Net Price: $12,483
Founded in 1947, the University of Maryland – University College is one of the most affordable colleges on this list. Depending on your residency, and if you have status as an active member of the military or are a veteran, the tuition can be as low as $7,500. UMUC now offers a completely online Master of Science in Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigation program.
This 36-credit online program costs $694 per credit and must be completed within five years of starting. Required courses may include:
- Communicating, Problem Solving, and Leading in Cybersecurity
- Cyberspace and Cybersecurity Foundations
- Digital Forensics Technology and Practices
- Digital Forensic Response and Analysis
- Capstone in Cybersecurity
This program will also prepare you for the following certification exams: AccessData Certified Examiner, Certified Cyber Forensics Professional, EC-Council Certified Incident Handler, and EnCase Certified Examiner.
The University of Maryland is featured on many “best of” rankings by U.S. News and World Report. From the Top Public Schools and Most Innovative Schools, to the nation’s Best Value Schools. In fact, UMUC offers more than 100 scholarships, financial aid, and interest-free monthly payment plans for those who qualify. The Completion Scholarship is one that serves to help Maryland community college graduates reduce the in-state rate by $100 per credit.
Average Net Price: $14,471
This private university headquartered in Delaware offers both undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a variety of areas. Known for its flexible day, evening, and weekend classes, WilmU offers unique 15-week, and 7-week course formats. Now, students with an interest in computer forensics can pursue an online Master of Science in Cybersecurity.
Students in this program may choose from one of two concentrations: cyber terrorism or SCADA cybersecurity. Required core courses may include:
- Protecting and Securing the OS
- Vulnerability Assmt and PT
- Cyber Threat Intelligence
- Network Security
- IDS and IPS
All students must also complete a Cybersecurity Capstone and a Research Seminar. The graduate online tuition rate is $466 per credit-hour. All active duty military personnel, not including guard, reserves, spouses and dependents, can take graduate courses for just $300 per credit-hour.
Wilmington University has been designated as a National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance/Cybersecurity through 2021 by the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. Graduates of this program will be prepared for jobs like: Computer Systems Analyst, Cybersecurity Intelligence Analyst, Digital Forensic Examiner, Ethical Hacker, and more!
Dakota State University
Average Net Price: $15,375
Dakota State University is a public university known for its technological focus. Over 3,000 students are enrolled in one of the many undergraduate, masters, or doctoral programs that Dakota offers. Now, the university based in South Dakota offers many of its prestigious degree programs online. Enjoy the flexibility of earning an MS in Information Assurance and Computer Security.
Students in this program must complete 30 credit-hours within the five-year time limit. You’ll also have the option of taking classes part-time or full-time. Required courses may include:
- Network Security/Intrusion Detection
- Principles of Information Assurance
- Ethics and Information Technology
- Managing Security Risks
All students will complete a total of 10 courses. In addition, you must successfully pass a comprehensive examination during your final semester to earn your degree. This program is intended for those with a background in computer science, information technology, or related field.
Dakota State University not only offers quality degrees, but affordable programs as well. In fact, no matter your state of residency, you will pay just $450 per credit-hour. Plus, 76 percent of students at DSU receive financial aid. There are also a variety of scholarship opportunities available.
University of Central Florida
Average Net Price: $15,533
This public research university in Orlando, FL offers more than 200 degree programs in 13 colleges. Innovation and diversity are core values at UCF – in fact, UCF was listed as the twenty-fifth Most Innovative University out of nearly 1,400 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Now, UCF’s College of Engineering and Computer Science offers an online MS in Digital Forensics.
What makes this program unique is how many different academic departments within UCF have collaborated to make it so comprehensive. You’ll take courses within the following departments:
- Computer Science, Electrical, and Computer Engineering
- Forensic Science of Chemistry
- Criminal Justice
- Legal Studies
This 100 percent online degree program requires students to complete 10 courses. You can complete this degree in as little as two years or less. All students may also choose between a thesis and non-thesis degree option.
The University of Central Florida is known for its affordable degree options. In fact, the tuition for this program is just $288 per credit-hour. However, out-of-state students must pay a $350 non-resident fee. UCF offers a variety of scholarship opportunities as well. All online students will also have full online access to the UCF Library.
University of Arizona
Average Net Price: $16,466
Founded in 1885 and located in Tucson, AZ, the University of Arizona is home to over 40,000 students. Now, this prestigious university offers online courses, giving their students more flexibility to fulfill their degree requirements. The Master of Science in Cybersecurity is one of the school’s best online programs and offers students a state-of-the-art Cyber Virtual Learning Environment.
This 33-unit program is intended for professionals who have at least three years of technical industry experience. Students may choose from one of two tracks: information systems or physical systems (engineering). Required courses may include:
- Information Security in Public and Private Sectors
- Data Mining for Business Intelligence
- Fundamentals of Computer Networks
- Systems Cyber Security Engineering
University of Arizona graduate programs range from $650 to $1,332 per unit.
Degrees earned through UA Online are exactly the same as those you would earn by taking traditional classes on campus. Perks of online degrees also include in-state tuition costs, even if you don’t live in Arizona! Ranked in the top 25 percent in the nation, UA Online is an excellent choice for anyone looking to learn the technical art of computer forensics.
Average Net Price: $16,742
Located in Grand Rapids, MI, Davenport University is home to nearly 7,500 students – both on-campus and online. With more than 50 programs offered through its Colleges of Business, Technology, Health Professions, Arts & Sciences and Urban Education, Davenport has plenty to offer. And now students can obtain a Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity.
This 34 semester credit-hour MS includes nine core courses, two upper-level electives, and a thesis. Required courses may include:
- Statistics for Business
- PERL/Python Scripting
- Introduction to Programming
- Information Security and Assurance
- Data Communications and Networks
Past graduates of this program have gone on to work for prestigious companies, including: National Security Agency, Boeing, CITI, Spectrum Health, Department of Energy, and more!
Whether you’re looking to become a Senior Security Analyst, Information Security Officer, or something similar, Davenport will leave you well-prepared. Not to mention, this online program is affordable too. In fact, Davenport University awards $15 million in scholarships each year! With a flexible online schedule and a curriculum that’s always ahead of the curve, you’ll definitely want to apply for this program.
University of the Cumberlands
Average Net Price: $17,619
This private, religious university is located in Williamsburg, KY. Founded in 1888, the University of the Cumberlands is now home to just over 3,000 students. If you’re interested in mastering the art of computer forensics, this university offers an excellent online program. Check out the university’s Master of Science in Information Systems Security.
This program is intended for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, or have worked in the industry for a number of years. Students must complete a total of 31 credit-hours. Required courses may include:
- Access Control
- Operations Security
- Security Architecture and Design
- Information Security and Risk Management
- Legal Regulations, Compliance, and Investigation
All students must also complete an Information Security Project in order to earn their degree. Most students complete this degree program in 18 months or less. The cost is $315 per credit-hour.
The School of Computer and Information Sciences also accepts Credit for Prior Learning. You can earn university credit for learning experiences through work, travel, volunteering, participating in professional organizations, or self-study. It’s no surprise that the University of the Cumberlands’ online programs are highly-ranked among more than 1,200 programs surveyed by U.S. News and World Report.
George Mason University
Average Net Price: $18,032
Originally founded as a branch of UVA, George Mason University is located in Fairfax, VA and is home to nearly 34,000 students. Consistently ranked as one of the best universities in the nation, George Mason offers plenty of unique degree options. In fact, students can now earn a Master of Science in Applied Information Technology through the university’s Volgenau School of Engineering.
This degree is offered 100 percent online. Students may choose a concentration in Cybersecurity as well. Required courses may include:
- Cyber Security Fundamentals
- Secure Software Development
- Network and Systems Security
- Incident Handling and Penetration Testing
- Cyber Security: Emerging Threats and Countermeasures
Students may choose whether or not they’d like to complete a thesis. The cost of this program is $695 per credit-hour for in-state residents or $1,516 per credit-hour for out-of-state students. Of course, financial aid and scholarship opportunities are available as well.
Graduates of this program typically go on to work for federal government agencies, non-profits, etc. Common job titles include: Intelligence Analyst, Business Systems Analyst, Project Management Analyst, Senior Systems Administrator, and more. It’s no wonder this program was ranked twenty-third among the Top 25 Online Programs in the US by U.S. News and World Report.
Our Lady of the Lake University
Average Net Price: $18,754
Our Lady of the Lake University is a Catholic, private university located in San Antonio, TX. With a variety of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, this university is a great place to start your career. In fact, you can now earn a Master of Science in Information Systems and Security completely online. Students can earn their degree in as little as one year.
This program requires students to take 15 hours of Information Systems courses and 15 hours in Information Assurance and Security. These may include:
- Internet Security Architectures
- Information Systems Development
- Telecommunications and Networking
- Information Assurance Planning and Management
- Information Systems Hardware and Software Platforms
Graduates of this program will be prepared for positions like Chief Information Officer, Chief Technology Officer, or Chief Security Officer. The cost per credit-hour is $889. Financial aid and scholarship options are available as well.
Our Lady of the Lake University was ranked among the Best Regional Universities in the West by U.S. News and World Report. The university is also home to some fun traditions. The annual Confetti 5K Run and Walk on Saturday raises money for student scholarships and attracts more than 1,000 participants.
Colorado Technical University
Average Net Price: $19,856
Founded in 1965 and located in Colorado Springs, CO, this university is home to over 21,000 students. U.S. News and World Report ranked Colorado Technical University among the Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology programs in the country. Now, interested students can earn a 48-credit Master of Science degree in Cybersecurity Policy completely online.
This degree program offers a concentration in Security Management. Required courses may include:
- Government and the Cyber Sector
- Cyber Organizations and Structures
- Computer Systems Security Foundations
- Leadership and Ethical Decision-Making
- Emerging Initiatives in Cybersecurity Policy
The cost of this program is $585 per credit-hour. Folks in the military and their families can enjoy tuition breaks. There are also scholarship and financial aid packages for those who need it.
Military Times Magazine has ranked CTU #1 Best for Vets in the category for online and non-traditional universities. Whether you’re in the military or not, CTU is an excellent choice for those seeking an advanced degree that is both flexible and affordable. Classes start several times throughout the year, making it convenient for even the busiest professionals.
Average Net Price: $20,232
Located in Romeoville, IL, this mid-sized, private, Roman Catholic school is home to nearly 7,000 students and over 100 degree programs. Now, each of their five schools offers flexible online degree programs. Interested in computer science and cyber security? Check out Lewis’ online MS degree in Computer Science with a Cybersecurity Concentration.
Students in this program will take four courses, plus one elective for a total of 15 credit hours. A sample of the online Cybersecurity courses offered include:
- Digital Forensics
- Wireless Security
- Enterprise Network Security
- Encryption and Authentication
- Intrusion Detection, Response and Recovery
Online courses are not self-paced, independent study courses. Rather, students are required to adhere to the class schedule, maintaining regular contact with the instructor and participating in online class discussions. Graduates of this program will learn everything they need to know to design software and utilize the tools and networks necessary to combat cyber attacks.
U.S. News and World Report has ranked Lewis University among the Top Regional Universities in the Midwest, as well as fifteenth in Best Colleges for Veterans. Their online programs have also been recognized for their flexibility and affordability. In fact, Lewis was ranked sixth among the 20 Best Online Masters in Cyber Security in 2017.
Capitol Technology University
Average Net Price: $20,571
This private university is located in Laurel, MD and is home to under 1,000 students. Capitol Technology University offers undergraduate and online masters programs in various fields of study. In fact, students can now earn a Master of Science degree in Cyber and Information Security completely online. This is an excellent program if you’re looking for a career as a cybersecurity administrator, chief information officer, or something similar.
This program can be completed in as little as 18 months. Students must complete a capstone, as well as courses which may include:
- Malicious Software
- Vulnerability Mitigation
- Computer Forensics and Incident Handling
- Operating System Principles for Information Assurance
- Legal Aspects of Computer Security and Information Privacy
Most of courses are offered in eight-week accelerated terms. The cost of tuition is $585 per credit-hour. Active duty military members can enjoy a lower rate of just $350 per credit-hour.
Capitol Technology University has been designated a National Center of Academic Excellence-Cyber Defense. Graduates of this program have been hired by a variety of prestigious companies. These organizations include: Raytheon, National Security Agency, Defense Information Systems Agency, Lockheed, Goldman Sachs, and more!
Average Net Price: $22,377
This private, nonprofit school was founded in 1971 and is headquartered in La Jolla, CA. National University has a total enrollment of nearly 18,000 students and boasts an extensive listing of online degree programs. One such degree program is the Master of Science in Cybersecurity and Information Assurance. This program is offered through National University’s School of Engineering and Computing.
Students in this degree program must complete 58.5 graduate units. Required courses may include:
- Threat Modeling & Intel
- Cyber Security Technology
- Cyber Security Ethical Issues
- Wireless and Mobile Security
- Net Defense and Cloud Security
Graduate students must also choose from one of the following areas of specialization: Ethical Hacking and Penetration Testing or Information Assurance and Security Policy. The cost per quarter unit for graduate programs is $416. Members of the military may enjoy discounted tuition rates.
Online programs at National University are flexible and interactive. They are delivered using the latest technology and students can access the platform 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Whatever your learning style is, this program will suit your specific needs. It’s no wonder that U.S. News and World Report has ranked National University among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs, Best Online MBA Programs, and Best Online Graduate Business Programs.
University of Detroit Mercy
Average Net Price: $22,382
Founded in 1877, the University of Detroit Mercy is the largest Roman Catholic university in Michigan. The university offers over 100 academic programs, as well as support in finding internship, research, and study abroad opportunities. Nearly 90 percent of the UD Mercy faculty have earned doctorate degrees or the highest available degrees in their fields. Now, students can earn an online Master of Science degree in Information Assurance with a major in Cybersecurity.
Students in this program must complete a total of 30 credits to earn their degree. Requirements include nine core courses and one elective which may include:
- Incident Response
- Cyber Defense Operations
- Cybersecurity Technologies
- Risk Management Processes
- Cybersecurity Management Processes
Most students complete this degree program in as little as one year. All students will also earn the following CNSS certifications upon graduation: NSTISSI 4011 – fundamentals and CNSSI 4012 IA management. Having these certifications will make your post-graduate job search that much smoother.
It’s not surprising that the University of Detroit Mercy is ranked highly among the nation’s top universities. In fact, U.S. News and World Report named ranked it twelfth on its list for Best Colleges for Veterans. It’s also been ranked among the Best Value Schools and Best Regional Universities in the Midwest.
Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
Average Net Price: $23,129
Penn State World Campus or “Penn State Online” is the online campus of The Pennsylvania State University. The World Campus launched in 1998 and has been gaining ground ever since. Now, with over 17,000 enrolled students, Penn State Online offers more than 125 degree and certificate programs. Students can now pursue an online Master of Professional Studies in Homeland Security with an Information Security and Forensics option.
Graduate students in this program must complete 33 credit-hours. The cost per credit is $880. In addition to a capstone project, required courses may include:
- Homeland Security Administration: Policies and Programs
- Homeland Security: Social and Ethical Issues
- Violence, Threats, Terror, and Insurgency
- Computer and Cyber Forensics
- Disaster Communication
The National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have designated Penn State as a “National Center of Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education.”
Pennsylvania State University–World Campus is ranked seventh among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs by U.S. News and World Report. The online university also tied for eighth in the ranking for Best Online Graduate Education Programs.
Average Net Price: $24,153
Founded in 1946, this private university is located in Utica, NY and is home to more than 3,500 students. Now, interested students can pursue an online Master of Science degree in Cybersecurity with a Computer Forensics Specialization. This program prepares graduates for a variety of industry certifications, including: Computer Hacking Forensic Investigator V8 – CHFI and Certified Computer Examiner – CCE.
This graduate program requires the completion of 30 credit-hours. Most students earn their degree within two years. In addition to a capstone project, required courses may include:
- Essential Topics and Emerging Trends in Cybercrime Investigations
- Computer Forensics and Investigation Methods
- Intrusion Forensics and Network Analysis
- Network Forensics
- Cyber Intelligence
While this degree program can be completed online, all students are required to complete a three-day on-campus residency. The cost per credit-hour is $895.
With the flexibility of online courses that can be accessed 24/7, it’s no wonder Utica is consistently ranked among the best colleges in the nation. Utica College has been named one of America’s Military Friendly Schools by G.I. Jobs Magazine each year since 2010. U.S News and World Report has also included UC on their ranking of Best Regional Universities in the North.